This happens to be my last post on JBlog. I have loved sharing the best of my dating stories, even the ones that make me cringe and want to move far, far away from NYC. But I’ve decided to take a break from online dating for the moment. And since my JDate subscription ends on October 15th, I have determined I have two solid options for how to use my last two weeks here. I could spend my time looking at profiles of guys I have previously seen, talked to, or maybe even dated. (Dude, do you seriously not remember the look I gave you when you ordered your second virgin Shirley Temple of the night?) Or I could offer up a date with myself and see who rises to the opportunity. Truthfully, the latter sounded like the more fun option…but don’t worry, I won’t blog about it (yet).
So if after reading the last 3 months of my dating stories, you have yet to find yourself running for the hills, battening down the hatches, or wondering what kind of guy would ever want to keep me around – this is your chance to ask me out. I should lay out some ground rules so I don’t find myself instantly regretting this offer. You must be: male, age 25-30(ish) and living in NYC. You must be kind, fun, silly, smart, and know better than to order a Shirley Temple without knowing that I will immediately text my friends about it. If that all of the above sounds like you, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why you think we should go out.
To all of you on JDate, I wish you only the best of luck in your dating endeavors. May you always find humor in your dates, the good, the bad, and the hilarious. And whatever you do, don’t let the schmucks get you down.
It’s official. I’m hitting that age when everyone I know on Facebook is moving in with their significant other, getting engaged, married, procreating. It’s all right on time I suppose, considering I’ve finally hit the mid-20s checkpoint. I realize that I’m young and I’m meant to be in the mix of it all at this stage in my life. Still, I think I’m experiencing a minor case of FOMO. Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely happy to see these good things happen to my friends. But at the same time, it’s causing a total shift in how I look at dating and my future. Their life events are the real thing: the beginning of their future. The beginning of life beyond the 20s. Nothing quite that big is happening to me right now. In fact, it’s safe to say that the highlight of my week was when my TiVo recorded a couple of Gilmore Girls episodes because it thought I might like it…and I did.
I’m not yet at the point where I’m bitter. I’m a little too young and naive for that. The problem is that the more I look at what is going on in other people’s lives, the more I start judging my own. I fixate on what others have that I don’t. I try to justify why I’m still single and they are not. I look inward to see if I can make sense of everything, as if I can really change things that I know will naturally happen. I have little to zero control over it. It will all happen eventually… or at least that is what I keep telling myself. But until that day comes, I’m going to really try and not let it drive me nuts. Instead I will see that I get my butt out of my apartment and out into the full-speed world of NYC and live my own life instead of sitting on my laptop looking at the lives of others. That should solve everything, or at least just keep myself from standing too still. And if not, there is at least some comfort in knowing who I come home to each and every night. My new boyfriend TiVo, and maybe an episode or two of Gilmore Girls.
I have one friend who refuses to acknowledge that we met on JDate. We’ve known each other for almost four years now, but a while back he made the executive decision to rewrite the history of how we met. So all of his friends have the new truth, while all of my friends have the original story from our first JDate. I even had a nickname for him based on his “About Me” section that I still refer to him as to my friends. I have total respect for his privacy on the subject, because I realize that for most people (myself excluded), online dating is a personal choice. However, I do believe that you can’t decide how you meet the love of your life. That’s going to happen when and where it’s going to happen. Unlike most things in my life, that’s one thing I can’t schedule.
The thing that I find so funny about is that I know of so many couples who met online. It’s like everywhere I look I see online dating success stories standing as tangible proof that it works. And yet when they are asked, “How’d you meet?” They lower their voices and say, “JDate” or say it so quickly that we don’t fixate on that part of the story. I just don’t get the stigma about it. I’d much rather claim JDate, as opposed to telling my kids the story of how I met their father at a frat boy filled dive bar. “Well, hunny. One night I was out with some friends at Brother Jimmy’s. Daddy saw me standing at the bar when I was going to buy a drink, we started talking and before I know it we were flirting and he bought me my next vodka soda. At the end of the night he asked me for my phone number. We texted for a couple of weeks and then he asked me out! Isn’t that, like, so romantic?!” (Disclaimer: I do not go to Brother Jimmy’s).
Don’t get me wrong, I’d really like to meet the great love of my life in person, and have a great story to go along with it. My parents had the kind of story that just makes you smile and laugh and you can even feel your heart just warm. I can’t help but want the same. But like I said, you can’t schedule the where and when. That’s why we so often turn to online sites – it can make it happen, even if it’s not spontaneous. I just know that if I ever meet a guy at Brother Jimmy’s, Central Bar, Bar None, or any bar like that, and things get serious between us, please sit me down and have an intervention about which bars I frequent and my recent life choices. And then please help me figure out how to rewrite the How We Met story. Because that’s a story that just won’t be pretty.
Everyone has a list, whether they consciously know it or not. There are about 13 items on my own list. “The List” comprises of your non-negotiable, must-have requirements and characteristics that you look for in the person you will hopefully one day marry. So whether or not you’ve actually sat down and written it out like I have, you most likely have a sense of what you’re looking for. And if you haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, finish reading my own and don’t do anything else until you’ve come up with a few requirements of your own. I realize that everything I’m saying sounds like a self-help book assignment, but trust me, I would never subject you to something I wouldn’t do myself or tell my best friend to do. In fact, two of my best friends were present when I made my list on a scrap of paper at a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen back in the fall of 2010. They even signed the bottom as a vow to never let me end up with a guy who even fell an inch short, a promise I will hold them to until the day I say “I do”.
All of the items on my original list are still there in one shape or another, although some have become a little clearer and more defined as I’ve made my way through the dating world. Instead of just loving his family, I want the guy I fall for to have a strong sense of family values. I once went on a date with a guy who didn’t even know what his own sister did for a living. I mean, really? It’s not like he’s a Duggar. He has one sister, which to me made him seem self-involved and hard to relate to. That’s why I’ve decided he needs to not only love his family, he has to really know them and have a strong sense of family values. That’s important to me, so important that it made it on my list. This is why I think you need to make one of your own. You can’t know what you’re looking for unless you have a clear vision. Here’s what has made my cut:
The man I will marry must…
1. Be a good guy. The kind of nice guy who doesn’t realize just how much of a mensch he is, but he is. His natural instinct is to do the right thing.
2. Be able to make me laugh in unexpected ways.
3. Keep up with my sarcasm, fast talking, and craziness. In other words, he can bust my own chops
4. Be silly. He can handle game night with my family and doesn’t mind corny fun.
5. Be Jewish – OR – willing to raise a Jewish family.
6. Be able to pull off a good suit. Seriously, there’s nothing like a man in a suit.
7. Not care that I’m a picky eater and that I’m not very nice until my first cup of coffee.
8. Be ridiculously smart. The kind of smart that watches Stewart, Colbert, and can calculate basic math for me (I’ll take any required writing if he will figure out 20% of our check).
9. Be crazy about his family…a healthy crazy. He must have a strong sense of family values and know where he came from.
10. Enjoy a healthy balance of normal guy activities and hobbies (music, sports, etc.). I need a real guys guy.
11. Have a solid group of friends. I want to know that he would understand how much I love my friends and they are important to me.
12. Be extremely ambitious and focused on his career. Goal oriented. Have a vision for what his potential is and the future.
13. Love me without holding back. He can’t be afraid to say it out loud, or want to take it back when he needs space. It’s all or nothing.
There’s that moment when you’re dating when you realize that if you hold on just a little bit longer, it might take off and become something more. Something significant. Something notable. Something to write home about. When this happens, you can’t help but feel inflated with excitement, passion, joy, and if you’re anything like me, a large amount of fear. That’s right. The girl who is the JDate blogger, the one who has been going on dates for the last three years, in and out of short relationships, only one of which wound up in a head over heels kind of love, and wants more than anything to find Mr. Right, is afraid of relationships.
When I got into my last relationship early last winter, I remember falling asleep one night laying next to my ex as he stroked my hair until my eyes finally closed. He kissed me gently before turning over to fall asleep himself, and all I could think was that this was everything I had wished for… and I am scared out of my freaking mind. I knew that from that very moment, I could no longer pull back my feelings or keep my walls up. It was all hanging out. Every piece of who I am was revealed and extremely vulnerable. And if that’s not scary, I honestly don’t know what is. Okay, horror movies are scary. I can’t even watch scary movie trailers without covering my eyes, but that’s a totally different story. But I’ve realized that this fear is the most difficult thing to overcome. You can be a serial dater, or in my case a serial first dater, if you’re always dressed in your suit of armor. No one can hurt you, disrupt your daily routine, or embed themselves in your life when they’re standing at arm’s length.
That’s what happens when you date the way I have, recently had your heart broken, or don’t have much experience in dating at all. You learn to keep your distance as a defense mechanism. You might go to the dance, but that doesn’t mean you will actually dance. It means you’re thinking about dancing. Then when the moment finally comes when someone offers to take your hand and lead you to the dance floor, you have two options. You can say, “It was nice of you to ask, but no thank you.” Or you can let it all go and shut up and dance.
He poked me on Facebook. Twice. Was one poke just not enough? We had only gone on one date, and it was just a cup of coffee in Gramercy on a Saturday afternoon. And immediately after he texted me that he had a good time. That’s it. And then a week later, when I had not texted back, he thinks about all the ways he could get in touch with me – phone, email, text, singing telegram, fax – and decides after much consideration I imagine, nope let’s go with a poke. That’ll get her heart. So when I didn’t answer him back, hoping he’d get the point, this guy throws the Hail Mary of Facebook communication and pokes me again.
Now that we were two pokes in, I knew I had to officially let him down. This might come as a surprise, but up until this moment I’ve only had the experience of telling guys I’m not interested after very ordinary interactions. None of my mother’s lessons in etiquette even remotely prepared me for post-JDate Facebook poking. I never even dreamed Facebook poking would be something I’d have to deal with. So I was completely on my own when I sat down to write him back and convey that I wasn’t interested and while I know he meant well, Facebook poking after a date is just wrong. So, so wrong.
I really was hoping I didn’t have to write this message. I think you’re a great guy, however, I don’t think we clicked when we met for coffee. I don’t know how to say what I am about to tell you without sounding harsh. I’ve thought of a ZILLION ways to say this nicely, and this is the best I can come up with: Poking someone on Facebook, especially after an interaction like ours, doesn’t come off charming. It was really awkward – both times – and I didn’t know how to react. I’m only saying this because I think other girls might have the same reaction as I did. A message is much nicer and more upfront than a poke (I’m sorry if that sounded as mean as I think it does. I just really wanted to let you know for the future).
I thought about this recently when I told a guy I wasn’t interested in him after 3 dates. I was shocked when he asked me where he went wrong. He said I could think of it as a favor, as he wanted to learn from this experience. I gave him a little feedback, and I think he genuinely appreciated my honesty. You know, maybe it wasn’t my place to tell the Facebook poker that poking is creepy, but part of me wanted to save him. What if no girl ever had the chutzpah to break it to him that poking is socially unacceptable? Would he still be Facebook poking girls innocently thinking that he was flirting? I really believe that all of the guys I’ve gone out with – well, at least for the most of them – deserve a fair shot. And besides, if you can’t learn from your dating mistakes after a JDate, when can you?
When you take your new boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet your parents, you might as well hold up a big sign that says, “Sh*t just got real.” Because if you’re introducing someone to your parents, it is real. You’re making a conscious choice to test the waters of a real future with someone. But back in the days of arranged marriages, a man would search for a wife, meet with a prospective father-in-law who would offer a dowry on behalf of his daughter, hands would shake, Heineken bottles would clink, and happily ever after would be off to an amicable start. Okay, maybe there was no Heineken, but if my dad were involved there would be. It’s now totally backwards. These days we are expected to go out into the wild and successfully find not only a mate, but our soul mate. And on top of that we are expected to trust our own judgment. We can’t just go blaming our parents if it ends up badly. It’s all up to us.
Only two guys have ever had the opportunity to shake my dad’s hand, and let’s just say they both later screwed up on catastrophic levels. Now I won’t even entertain introducing a guy to my family until I’m very confident in our future. This guy will not only have to meet (and hopefully exceed) my expectations, he will have to be able to keep up with my dad and brother. He will have to endure their lengthy discussions about law and politics, the NFL and MLB, the Beatles and Dylan, nine irons and wedges. And then, of course, he will have to pass the Jewish mother test with flying colors. And while my mom passed away when I was in high school, I know without a doubt that the first question she would ask is, “When was the last time you spoke to your mother?”, the right answer being “today.” The next question: when was your last haircut?
Just getting to this point in a relationship is a feat in itself, and I can’t even make it to the checkpoint where meeting the fam is a topic of discussion. So I’m thinking, why don’t we take the whole soul mate search and go back to the days of yore? I’m confident that my dad, who is amazing, would put together a pretty outstanding dowry and then I’d have a good selection of possible husbands to choose from. It would include high end guitars (acoustic and electric), TaylorMade golf clubs, Jack Daniels, and not to mention, season tickets to Marlins games (don’t blame the man – we’re from Florida). Seriously, what guy wouldn’t love that? Then my dad and I would discuss who is Mr. Right, the men would shake hands, I’d call my dating shenanigans quits. Boom. I’d get my happily-ever-something. Any takers? I just have one more question. When was the last time you talked to your mother?
1. Not all Jews are created equal. As a Reform girl, I learned quickly that dating someone much more religious than myself was not right. I also learned that Orthodox Jews’ iPhones are not immune to Shabbat. And I promise you I was bat mitzvahed.
2. Sometimes your date can go so badly that halfway through your first drink he will say, “Yeah, this isn’t going well.” At this point, feel free to ask them if they have friends to set you up with. Obviously, this isn’t always protocol but if it’s that apparent you’re both having a bad time, why the hell not?
3. Not everyone wants a serious relationship. Some JDaters want activity partners, not someone to bring home to the fam. Try and get to the bottom of this before you hit date #5 and wonder why that ohmygod-this-is-amazing spark is going out faster than you can say afikomen.
4. Sometimes you might flee a date (see: Stage Five Clinging Salsa Dancer) and then see that person while you’re on another first JDate. And it only takes 15 minutes of them giving you the stink eye for you to realize it. I like to call this JDate Karma.
5. Not everyone tells the truth about their height, their weight, their looks. But everyone wants a chance in real life. And if you’re not willing to be open-minded, don’t say yes to the date. It’s not like when you say yes to a first date that you are automatically signing on for a second or third one. So if you’re even a tiny bit curious, give up an hour of your life to see for yourself.
Okay, I lied there is a 6th lesson…
6. Sometimes a date can go well. It can go so well, in fact, that you leave the date and feel so unexpectedly excited that you grab your phone to call your friends and tell them everything. And you stare at your phone waiting for them to call or text you. And your mind wanders down that road where you see future dates play out. And then everything that happened in lessons 1-5 slips away and you’re in the moment and it’s a good one. And it was all worth it.
They say that age is just a number. Well, whoever “they” is has clearly not been on many dates. There was a time when I was really frustrated dating guys in their 20s. None of them seem to have the attention span to keep a girlfriend. So I decided to give dating older guys a shot. And then I realized that they were just a little too old for me, a little too figured out. I would hear myself complain about it and I sounded like the Goldilocks of men’s ages. This one’s too old. This one’s too young. Does anyone have markers so I can make a sign saying, “Wanted: JUST RIGHT”?
I’ve even developed a test to measure a guy’s age to his maturity level. It started when I was on a sixth date with someone who was almost 9 years older than me. I liked everything about him. He was nice, smart, hard working, and our families had a lot in common, but I couldn’t put my finger on one thing. What did he do for fun? I finally asked him this very question and he without missing a beat goes, “I don’t really know.” How does a person not know what they do for fun? Seriously. And then I asked THE question. The most important question for me to determine just how much one can let loose, not give a damn, and just enjoy life.
Me: Okay… but when was the last time you had like a fun drunk karaoke night?
Him: (long, long pause) 1998.
Me: That was the last time you really had fun like that?
Him: (shrug) Yeah.
Do I even need to tell you that this was the last date? It wasn’t the karaoke thing that was the deal-breaker. It was the fact that it had been 14 years(!) since he had a let-your-hair-down-Facebook-picture-worthy night. FOURTEEN years! Titanic was still in theaters the last time he had fun. Britney Spears was still a virgin. There was no such thing as an iPhone. I had a Tama-freakin-gatchi. I mean, this was a long, long time ago. When was my last fun drunk karaoke night? Two weeks ago to the day. But I have fun nights where I find myself smiling as if I have a hanger stuck in my mouth pretty often. And that’s a requirement for any guy I date. I instantly knew it was time to reel in the gap and date guys closer to my own age, even if they might not be as ready for a relationship as I am. I want to find someone to grow up with, not grow into. That poor guy though. He will never know that he was just one Livin’ On a Prayer away from a Total Eclipse of The Heart.
This one is for Call Me Maybe. This one is for the best pop song to come along since Britney apologized because oops, she did it again. I truly believe that Call Me Maybe is the most brilliant song I’ve heard in years. Can I get an Amen? Seriously, this song is more infectious than the zombie plague. It instantly makes you want to sing along, dance a-fool, and put on repeat when you’re at home getting ready for a night out (oh don’t roll your eyes, you’ve done it, too). This song is hypnotic. It essentially has the same effect as a tequila shot when you’re already a couple of drinks in. It makes you shake your inhibitions, look at a person in the corner of the bar and do something you wouldn’t do without a little liquid courage. So you think what the hell. You grab a bar napkin or tear off the bottom of a receipt, borrow a pen from a friend, and quote the most inspiring poet since Shakespeare.
Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here’s my number,
(Insert 10-digit phone number here)
Call me maybe?
For all you doubters out there, I want to assure you that I have seen this happen. Some of my best friends pull the Call Me Maybe, and I promise you they are not usually this forward. We are the type of girls who go out and wait until we are presented the opportunity to flirt with a guy and hand out our numbers at the end of the night. And some nights it never happens. But that’s all changed thanks to Miss Carly Rae Jepsen. We no longer have to sit on the sidelines of dating until we are asked to dance. We can get up and shell our digits on our own accord, without having to feel bashful about it. And it’s all because of a #1 hit. So here’s to you Carly Rae and the song that inspires us all.